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EU Accounts Signed Off, but Errors Persist

EU accounts signed off, but errors persist in all main spending areas, say EU Auditors

The annual report on the EU budget for 2012 financial year was published recently by the European Court of Auditors (ECA). In 2012 the EU spent €138.6 billion, but in most spending areas of the EU budget the report finds that the legislation in force is still not fully complied with.

Looking at the EU budget as a whole, the ECA’s estimate of the error rate for spending is 4.8 % for the 2012 financial year (3.9% in 2011). All operational spending areas were affected by material error in 2012. The estimate of the error rate is not a measure of fraud or waste. It is an estimate of the money that should not have been paid out because it did not comply with the legislation concerned.

This raises the obvious question about what processes, organizational structure and systems the European Union has in place to manage and monitor compliance.  With the widespread availability of cloud-based systems for financial governance there is now little reason for organizations not to exert more control. And with public sector spending under pressure across the EU, citizens may justifiably challenge a laissez-faire attitude to the management of the public purse.